At a public meeting last week, Nelson’s financial manager Colin McClure said he is recommending a three per cent property tax increase in 2018, to which 1.5 per cent will go to a building reserve fund. This and other recommendations will be finally decided at an upcoming council meeting.
McClure explained that the residential tax increase will cost the owner of a $393,000 home an additional $49 per year. McClure’s rule of thumb is that a one per cent tax increase raises $85,000 for the city.
McClure is also recommending a two per cent ($11) annual increase for water rates, a 1.5 per cent ($7) increase for sewer rates, and a 2.25 per cent increase in hydro rates.
The ten members of the public at the meeting were outnumbered by 13 members of city staff, city council, and the media.
McClure reported that the three per cent increase will cover a projected shortfall of $270,000 in the operations budget:
• an increase in allocation to the equipment reserve ($70,000)
• 2018 election expenses ($20,000)
• proposed emergency services and wildfire mitigation staff and supplies ($100,000)
• increased allocation to building reserve ($120,000)
• a decrease in the finance staffing budget of $20,000.
He explained that of the city’s $43 million budgeted revenue, $20.7 million will come from taxes and this funds the city’s operations including fire, police, garbage, cemetery, parks, transit, library, roads, reserves, salaries and benefits. The other portion comes from utility user fees and other user fees and from grants, to fund utilities and capital projects.
If Nelson residents’ tax bills don’t seem to match the information given here, that’s because the city also collects taxes on behalf of other agencies, so city taxes will account for only 41 per cent of residential tax bills. The rest consists of taxes collected for the Regional District of Central Kootenay (18 per cent), school taxes (37 per cent), regional hospital taxes (three per cent), and the BC Assessment Authority (one per cent).
McClure went into detail about taxation, budgets, assets, business taxes, property assessments, reserves and debt. This material can be seen in his presentation slides at this link.